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Noise tampers hearing

Like adults, children are likely to suffer hearing loss from continued exposure to loud noises like music, power generators, drilling machines and firecrackers, according to a new national survey. The survery says that 5 million children have noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears.

If the loss is only in one ear, the child's overall hearing is usually not affected, says Laura Sievers, an audiologist at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.

Noise-induced hearing loss happens gradually over time, generally associated with the elderly. But mild hearing loss as a child or young adult may set the stage for significant premature hearing loss.

When both ears are affected, even a slight noise-induced hearing loss can result in difficulty hearing consonants such as s, sh, f and v. In cases of moderate noise-induced hearing loss, the problem of hearing consonants and distinguishing words like 'fish' and 'fist' would be even more noticeable. In severe noise-induced hearing loss, kids may have difficulty discriminating even more words such as 'cat' from 'bat' and their speech may be affected, says Sievers.

If children are near a firework display or some distance away, the sound is still loud enough to create atleast a temporary threshold shift, which will cause muffled hearing and ringing in one's years. So it's always better to wear a pair of throw-away ear plugs in such situations.

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